Jim Miller – Trombone Interview
Welcome to the show notes for Episode #16 of the Trombone Corner podcast. This episode features Associate Principal Trombonist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Jim Miller.
Listen to or download the episode below:
About Jim Miller
James Miller is the Associate Principal Trombone with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a position he has held since 1999. His duties include performing on alto, tenor, and bass trombone; tenor tuba; and bass trumpet. His previous orchestral experience includes the North Carolina Symphony, the Long Island Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, and the Dallas Symphony. Miller earned his Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Northern Iowa and his Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, where he was a scholarship student of Per Brevig.
His playing experience includes performances with the Silk Road Ensemble, the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, Ensemble ST-X, the Michael Bublé Big Band, and a variety of jazz, rock, ska, and Latin ensembles. He has been a participant in the Mainly Mozart Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Ojai Music Festival as well as performing as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and on the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series. His solo career spans performing with orchestras and wind enssembles in the United States and Mexico. As a composer, he has had world premieres at New York’s Lincoln Center and continues to perform his own works in solo performances throughout the country. He serves on the faculty of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Aspen Music Festival.
Miller is a Conn/Selmer and a Denis Wick clinician and has released three CDs on All Barks Dog records: From Coast to Coast, Trio for Voice, Trombone and Cello and Delays, delays.
Jim Miller Links
[0:00:10] John Snell: Welcome to the Trombone Corner podcast where we feature interviews with trombonists from all over the globe. It’s great to have you join us as we talk all things trombone brought to you by the Brass Ark and Bob Reeves Brass, This is your host John Snell from Bob Reeves Brass along with some help from Noah Gladstone of the Brass ArK. Today’s special guest is James Miller. We’ll get to his interview in just one moment after a word from our sponsor and some trombone news.
[0:00:41] Noah Gladstone: Hello, loyal listeners. This is Noah Gladstone. I founded the Brass Ark in 2010 to celebrate the love and passion for legendary brass craftsmanship. I wanted to share my joy for the best gear and bring it to the forefront of musicians, minds through the development and cultivation of modern equipment with roots firmly established in the classic designs of the vintage masters, Bob Reeves Brass is a world renowned mouthpiece maker of the highest quality and has been handcrafting mouthpieces for professional trumpet players for over 50 years together we are excited to bring a premium line of handcrafted mouthpieces to the trombone community inspired by rare and vintage classics and modernized for the needs of today’s musician models are available in a variety of sizes from small and large tenor bass, trombone euphonium as well. Custom sizes. We also have artist models available as used by David Rejano, Jay Friedman and Charlie Vernon. Visit Brass Ark dot com or trombone mouthpiece dot com for more information and remember to follow us on instagram at the Brass Ark and at bob Reeves Brass back to you, john
[0:01:44] John Snell: Wonderful Noah, thank you for that and thank you for joining us. We have a lot of new listeners after our last episode Alex Isles. If you haven’t checked that out, go back and scroll down a little bit and we have a lot of wonderful episodes and Alex is certainly one of those and I want to get right to my interview here with James but there’s a couple of things I do wanna mention to you.
First of all this week when this podcast is posting, we will be in san Antonio texas for the annual TME A conference. If you’ve never been to San Antonio for TMEA you’re missing out. Even though it’s for technically Texas music educators and their students, it is huge. Thousands and thousands of people. And of course we will be there with hundreds of mouthpieces, mostly trumpet. But we will have our full selection of Reeves – Brass Ark, mouthpieces for trombone, bass, trombone and bass trumpet, alto…we’ll have a couple of those mouthpieces as well. So if you are curious and want to try, you know, maybe our small shank tenors like the 11C and Clark or more orchestral style, 4G & 5G variations including the very popular 5G Gladstone or some of our artists, models like the Rejano line, the J. F, the CV and can’t forget the bass trombonists with the O.Bass and the Mr. Bass. Um so please come by the Bob Reeves Brass booth to try those out and if you find something you like, you can even walk away with it.
Another thing you should know is we’re starting to curate some cool and exotic mutes from around the world maybe it might be rare or hard to find and we’ll have some of those at the booth with us. One of the brands were proud to carry is the Ullven Mute brand from Sweden — handcrafted mutes and if you know a little bit about their history, they’ve been around a long time. They closed up shop in 2000 and just recently were revitalized by a trumpet player. He was a friend of the Ullven family and realized that they had all of their tooling still lying around. So he got the mutes going just like the originals. So we have some Ullven trombone harmon style or bop mutes. We have some cup mutes and the new mute, the Christian Lindberg straight mute, we’ll have one of those at the booth. So that’s the Ullven mutes. We also have some cool Japanese mutes. The Yupon mute line which are very popular here in L. A. Especially the cup and the straight mutes will have those as well as the practice mute from Yupon. Also from Japan is the Okura mutes which are gaining popularity. Not a lot of people know about them but they make a practice mute for trombone and for bass trombone. So we’ll have that at the booth and last but not least, we will have a full line of the Rejano practice mutes. If you’re not familiar with them. David Rejano is a Bob Reeves artist and also the wonderful principal trombone player of the L. A. Phil has developed a incredible trombone practice mute and we’ll have those and all kinds of different fun colors, both for trombone and bass trombone. And I think we have a few alto trombone mutes as well that will bring so plenty of things.
Even though Bob Reeves Brass is primarily known as a trumpet mouthpiece place, we are expanding and we will cater to your needs in the trombone community as well. And we’ll have our resident trombonist Robert Coomber there to show you all, we have to look forward to seeing you in San Antonio TMEAm February 9th to 11th.
The other thing I’d like to bring up is be sure to check out the Brass Ark website. Noah just got another shipment of trombones the other day. Uh, he’s like a toy shop. I mean I’m a trumpet player and I still love all the things he pulls out and shows me that he gets, so always keep an eye out on his website. Brass arkvdot com because he updates it regularly. And some of these rare and really cool trombones that he gets in don’t last long. So you want to make sure you’re on the website to see what he post so you can nab it quickly before someone else does again. That’s Brass Ark dot com.
That’s all the news for today. Let’s get right to Noah and my interview with James Miller.
James Miller is the associate principal trombonist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a position he has held since 1999. His duties include performing on alto, tenor and bass trombone, tenor tuba and bass trumpet. His previous orchestral experience includes the North Carolina Symphony, the Long Island Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the Dallas Symphony. James earned a bachelor of music education degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a Masters of Music degree from the Juilliard School where he was a scholarship student of Per Brevig. James playing experience includes performances with the Silk Road Ensemble, the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, Ensemble STX, the Michael Buble Big Band and a variety of jazz, rock, ska and latin ensembles. As a composer, he has had world premieres in New York’s Lincoln Center and continues to perform his own works and solo performances throughout the country. He serves on the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles.
And now our interview with James Miller.
[0:06:53]John Snell: Alright, we are here in the trombone corner. Co hosting with me today is Noah Gladstone. Noah, you’re looking good today.
[0:06:56] Noah Gladstone: Hey John you look great too.
[0:06:58] John Snell: Thank you. I think we’re matching even though no one can see us since this is an audio podcast.
[0:07:06] John Snell: We all got the memo! Joining us today is Jim Miller. Jim, thank you so much for being here today.
[0:07:14] Jim Miller: Thanks.
[0:07:17] John Snell: Let’s talk about the trombone. Jim. Let’s, let’s just start from the beginning because there’s no better place. Can you tell us how you fell into the trombone or the trombone fall in your lap? How did it get started?
[0:07:27] Jim Miller: That is a pretty good question. I think because I’m a gold type of guy. I sort of fell into the trombone in this regard. I started out as a trumpet player in grade school in fifth grade. Most likely because when I had the walk with my parents and I told him I wanted to play the drums. I think they started to walk faster and they told me to play trumpet, but my friends were playing trumpet. So it worked out fun. You know, it’s probably about maybe 10 of us in the trumpet row in fifth grade. Um, it was pretty fun. I had a little cornet, a Conn Connstellation cornet. Um, and I had a, we had a family cat and I mean the Connstelation cornet case is about this big and the cat was this big, it’s pretty pretty out of hand, 30 pound cat. Cool picture. Um Nevertheless, I think I was playing like third trumpet, second trumpet and I made my way up the ranks to junior high school and, we had these things called apple cart upset, which you would challenge somebody in class. And then the next day they had to play whatever lines from the Rubank method. And I sort of climbed my way up to second chair and the band director said, hey, we need a euphonium player. And he got me all excited about it. So I mean as of course, you know, and so I was one of the two euphoniumss, that was a lot of fun, actually really enjoy to plenty of fun. We worked ou The Muppet Theme at the talent show, you know, with the tuba and euphonium, nothing, nothing says Muppets like that.
[0:09:09] John Snell: Is there a video of that? We’d like to see a video of that!
[0:09:12] Jim Miller: This in the dark days of the 70s man, get away with things. So, uh, and then my band director as cunning as he was decided that we needed more trombone players. And so he got me all excited about being a trombonist. And I remember telling my friends like I’m gonna be a trombone player and I got mixed reactions, but it was a pretty savvy maneuver. He put me on second chair and I just started in eighth grade and so all the eighth graders and ninth graders below me were pissed and there’s probably about eight of them and they’re angry. I mean pissed at me because who is this guy all of a sudden he’s like ahead of us. So he made me practice, He really made me practice and that’s, that was pretty smart maneuver on this guy’s part and so I, you know got his first chair and and then just kind of started playing trouble and for good all the way through that. We had a great band director though, he brought in Gerry Mulligan’s Sextet Octet, he brought Maynard Ferguson brought a lot of great groups to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to play in our gym. It was impressive. So we got exposed to a lot of great stuff, he play records in band class, which I mean we he introduced us all to The Weather Report, I got to see them play. Um I saw a concert this is off the beaten path, but I saw a concert with James Morrison last night at Colburn. May have heard about that. Peter Erskine played drums. I was just kinda reminiscing like I’ve seen Peter play live probably about 35 years in various settings from Maynard to Weather Report to all the things he’s done fairly recently and then as of last night and still killing it anyway, it’s just good to, you know, have that level of inspiration bringing by your teachers brought.
[0:11:04] John Snell: That’s awesome. A lot easier to see good music out here in L. A. now than in Iowa.
[0:11:10] Jim Miller: Well, I mean at the time a lot of good stuff but yeah, I was
[0:11:13] John Snell: gonna say thanks to your band director. I mean that’s and and and a credit to that profession, you know, they’re kind of the unsung heroes that, you know, we, I think all of us here owe our careers and to, you know, because that’s they started us out now. Did you have anyone musical in your family or you know were you the first one?
[0:11:35] Jim Miller: I mean the first one, my mom played a little bit of flute and she was a very anxious pianist. So the one time she played piano with me was in sixth grade for a competition like you know, so ensemble competition for school and she just hated it. She she got so nervous, she walked out. It was like I ain’t doing this ever again. So that’s the last time I heard her play piano in that regard, which is it’s kind of a funny little um you know, way to sort of be inspired by music, which it wasn’t necessarily, but I kept going um it kind of reminds me of when I won my job with the philharmonic. And on the ride home, Ralph Sauer gave you the ride back to my hotel and he’s talking to his wife then he goes, I’m headed up to here with trombone and I’m always, you know, extended about winning his job and it’s kind of a bit of like, you know, you know, you have to get used to some personalities and that’s just that’s just silly Ralph. So you know, we had some really good influences in Iowa, I mean it’s you would think that it’s sort of out in the boonies musically, but there’s a lot of cutting edge stuff going on. Um I’ve lived in a town called Cedar Rapids Iowa, there’s a college co college and the headed to the jazz departments name Paul Smoker was killing trumpet player. Uh, you really um innovator, strong jazz innovator and just shredded on the trumpet. And so I’d go and just hang out and sit in on his improv classes and any like little performances with the big bands and stuff like that is really awesome man. He got mad at me one time because I broke in and of course and the vibes and I shouldn’t have because I was just like I want to play. It was pretty funny, a lot of people get mad at me, you know, when I’m young. So yeah, growing up in Iowa, that’s what happened, you know, high school and no, no, nobody in musical in my family. My I think I had an uncle, a great uncle that may have played in Sousa’s band who was in the Marines, but I don’t really know necessarily names.
[0:13:45] John Snell: So was there a point growing up where you thought, okay, this is what I want to do or did you? really?
[0:13:48] Jim Miller: Absolutely
[0:13:52] John Snell: Do you remember when that point was?
[0:13:55] Jim Miller: I kind of don’t really, I think I always wanted to make sounds somehow whether it was on the trash cans at home or um, you know on my instrument? I love bugs bunny. And so I tried to figure out a lot of the classic tunes that, that they would play, you know, like Columbia gym in the ocean, trying to figure that out in the corner, you know, in fifth grade. That’s so I had it, I was into it. Um, I don’t know if there was any point in time prior to that, that, that I didn’t necessarily want to, you know, play music all the time. I didn’t really correlate that with, with making a living on it, you know, because it just didn’t, it didn’t seem like that was, you don’t see that, that contact, you know, people aren’t going to gigs right and left. It just, it was sort of like, you just loved music and he played it and you know, you found recordings and um so I mean I had some very influential recordings enter into my life. One was the Gunther Schuller Red Back book um is a large ensemble of arrangements of, of Scott Joplin um really cool arrangements. And then the, The Entertainer with Marvin Hamlisch also, really good soundtrack to turn me on and that sort of gravitated towards Sousa marches. So my grandmother actually was really responsible for feeding me some super cool recordings. Found one the other day, um uh Solid Gold Brass. Um that was, that was a really cool album. Just sort of, you know, had masking data on it and just sort of, got the brass thing happened to me all kind of like brass stuff? It was awesome. It really was cool.
[0:15:33] Noah Gladstone: Were you in the orchestra stuff to uh, in school?
[0:15:36] Jim Miller: I mean, we had, we had orchestra in junior high school. It was a pretty good, I mean, the school programs in Iowa are really awesome or at least they were at the time. Um uh good, big band, good large band programs, um, orchestra, big band, concert band, marching band, every school had it. Um, and we, we ran through a lot of previous repertoire. Um, I didn’t really thought orchestra music was gonna be the IT whatsoever. Um, we did get in trouble one time myself and, and the other really good trouble player in junior high school Vicky, we decided it was a good idea to try to play everything a half step away from what was written. And the band director was the was pretty cool. Didn’t make a big show of it, you know, it was like, oh, okay, we’re bad.
[0:16:33] John Snell: Have you pulled that one recently at all?
[0:16:34] Jim Miller: Or you know, not intentionally
[0:16:36] Noah Gladstone: You know, John it’s really easy to get off on half steps on a trombone slide, I know your valves and stuff, but you know,
[0:16:47] Jim Miller: Yeah, valves are less forgiving slide, at least you can kind of be sort of in the crevices.
[0:16:52] John Snell: Yeah, try that on a soprano trombone, eighth of an inch away. I mean, that’s
[0:16:56] Jim Miller: right millimeters
[0:17:00] John Snell: Lest I digress. So can you tell us about, what, did you have any private teachers growing up or was that not until you get into college?
[0:17:07] Jim Miller: I did, I did my junior high school band director and Max Northrup who was the guy that was kind of responsible for feeding me a lot of good musical information. Um, we had a luminary through my high school program uh named Kim Schoenburg, who’s was legendary in, in the town of L. A. Kim was my first teacher, my first private teacher, he was a freshman or a sophomore at the time at Eastman and he was working with Ray White and doing a lot of arranging and so I brought in my arrangements and you know, we just, we worked on um, trombone and you know, I think one of the best things he told me is like, don’t slow down in the lower register, It’s still sticks to me today. I have to remind myself, don’t slow down and get out of the 6-7 position just because it’s a little more laborious, you know, But so that happened. Um and then I also had a teacher whose name was Gerry Owen, who also taught at co he was the trouble professor there. Um, here’s something that I, I I didn’t think was abnormal. Um, I was a junior and I think we worked on a couple of, of some of the standard rep and we we did like the Gordon Jacob and then the Hindemith sonata for Trombone, which it’s a bear, especially on the, on the piano part. And it’s one of those pieces that like whenever a student wants to program the Hindemith, I first have to check in like, is there a piano player and that’s gonna be the one to put up this, you know? So anyway, when I was uh
[0:18:42] Noah Gladstone: actually, really?
[0:18:43] Jim Miller: Yeah, when I was 17 years old, he’s there, he’s playing piano, he’s giving me instructions and, and like, you know, told me like, let’s start here. He’s like kind of didn’t really ever look at the music and didn’t look at his hands, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that or abnormal or out of the ordinary until I, you know, started working in college and, and, and graduate school trying to find pianist who want to play that piece and like what’s the big deal with this thing? Like it was a freak of nature, great composer, super great teacher. And, and so I think I got a lot of good uh, foundation in my, in my youth. Um, you know, apart from from being wavered and, you know, misguided in a lot of other ways, at least my musical sense was, was kind of organized. Um, but you know, I wish I had been introduced to the Arban Book earlier. That’s something that’s sort of a side barred and at least in high school and you know, I mean any student I would have now, especially in that era at that age teens, it’s the Arban book right away because it’s just kind of the foundation, I mean as we all know, you know, for sure, you know, it’s just kind of a given book out I think actually think thanks.
[0:20:03] Noah Gladstone: Yeah, I gotta find it.
[0:20:10] John Snell: Next podcast, we’re all going to have it.
[0:20:15] Noah Gladstone: It’s all about the interval section, that’s
[0:20:18] Jim Miller: I know it kind of gets stuck on page whatever was 132, yeah, stuck on it, that’s the killer.
[0:20:26] John Snell: Yeah. When did the Arban book show up in your life man?
[0:20:32] Jim Miller: The book showed my life in graduate school when other students like, oh yeah, the Arban book, what’s that? So, and it kind of showed up my life a lot later to meet all these famous guys um, I think that be shea two showed up later and which is like kind of, he wrote trumpet etudes as well I think correct or maybe the same one, all the instruments cold crash. So you know those those famous a to just kind of showed up and uh in graduate school and then later in life and I kind of figured out how to do things on my own, which is kind of what you have to do at a college, obviously, you know, we all know that, so,
[0:21:13] John Snell: so speaking of college, can we talk a little bit about your experience? I mean you started with the University of Northern Iowa as a, as an education major. Right?
[0:21:20] Jim Miller: That’s correct. It was University of Northern Iowa. Um, I was, I didn’t have any interest in orchestra whatsoever. Um, so it was, it was all about the big band and jazz improvisation stuff like that. So I was the jazz emphasis major, um trombone. And then I also kind of just sort of paid attention to how the music school students were, the education students. And those guys were sort of hanging on the lounge all the time when the restaurants were, you know, dashing out of the practice room or you know, being the first ones in the last one to leave and they’re all just kind of milling around very social birds but also knew that they were, you know, kind of average musicians, you know, our practitioners and, and, and sort of bothered me a little bit. Um our jazz band would go and do outreach programs in high schools and, and there are some band directors out there who are just old as dirt man. And obviously, you know, they’ve they’ve they’ve long since given up and they’re just not into it. And that sort of irked me to the point where I’m like, well damn it, I want to learn, I want to, you know, show the world. So I stuck around for another couple of years and got an education degree, which I did because I got a job right away out of school. Um When I was 19 I ran the jazz program at the university that I was in cedar falls Iowa. And they had one big high school cedar falls high school. Um and for some reason 19 and 20 I was asked to run the jazz band and it was a lot of fun actually. It was great and super great experience for me. I get there, we have rehearsal at night. First thing it turned out the lights and listen to music and then talk about it and then play and it was just really really neat experience. Good kids. I don’t know what I was doing as a 20 year old without a degree, you know, teaching the jazz program. And then I was running the marching band program to that. So all this stuff happened before I got my degree. It was a good resume builder because it got me a job right away. So my promise to myself was that if I started hating teaching I’m out. So two years later I stopped teaching in high school. You gave it two years. I just, I started to feel it. You know, after two years it’s kind of tough work. We had a consolidated school district. Um They were 300 kids in the band program when I started and 90 when I ended, yeah we kind of weeded out some chaff and and I was also the detention King too. So I don’t know…
[0:23:59] John Snell: While you were teaching where you also freelancing to or keeping a playing career?
[0:24:05] Jim Miller: Sure, absolutely. Um just sort of back put a little bit. I have a little drum corp history also and I think that’s kind of where the marching band thing came in and also maybe the demand came in. So as a band director is a little more demanding than others. And um, you know, hubris goes along with that too. So that just wasn’t experienced. Um, but I think that the kids have stuck around really were fairly worthwhile and I made a lot of good friends, you know from that group. But yeah, I was playing the whole time. Uh, you know, I don’t, what what is the freelance situation like in cedar falls, Iowa um, you kind of had to make your own scene. I’ve done easter gigs and I think we had a couple of, you know, kind of christmas time gigs and some community band gigs in the summertime. You know where I played the double barrel euphonium. That was a lot of fun. But you have to create your own groups. And so I had the James miller jazz quartet, the James miller brass quintet. I had a blues band where I played bass, I played bass in another kind of a big blues band for a while. I sat in with with everybody that came through town and some of the local bars, so I got a chance to play with buddy guy, which is the right. I mean, again, talk about hubris just kind of going after buddy guy that I couldn’t sit in. I wouldn’t even have the guts to do that now. But at that time, you know, I just kind of went into it. So I’m kind of a blues trombone player at heart. So, you know, five notes or less man, maybe six.
[0:25:43] John Snell: That’s also maybe one of the benefits of being raised in a smaller town, you know, because you you can create your own opportunities and you can, yeah, when someone comes to town, you have access to them. Whereas if someone comes to town in L. A….
[0:25:56] Jim Miller: Oh, you don’t have access at all. Yeah. Unless you know even know somebody, you know somebody. Yeah, exactly. So, you know, I had we had a kind of a good progressive rock band um that we went through um and did a lot of recording with them and we kind of toured a little bit in the state and uh broke a lot of rules and kind of put some people off because, you know, the horn section that was with a metal band and you know, we play funk too. And all the things that that sort of, the flagellation just blew people’s minds, They didn’t like it, you know, we were music students. You know, it’s all the rock bands in town that were not music students hated us, you know? Yeah, people hate me. Yeah, you’re right.
[0:26:42] Noah Gladstone: r Well, I didn’t know this was gonna turn into an intervention, but I guess I might as well let you know.
[0:26:53] John Snell: So then, so then how do we make the jump from Northern Iowa University to Juilliard? Like where did that come about?
[0:27:00] Jim Miller: I was my trombone teacher, John Hanson, who taught Mark Fisher, uh, and John Engelkes. Um, and Mark Fox, a variety of other, really good players. Um, wanted me to take some solo competitions. I won a solo contention school with barely a sequence to, I thought that was pretty fun. Um, so I did a couple other things and I want this Minnesota Minnesota Women’s Association in Minnesota. So, um, I came in second place there. Fisher won it one year on euphonium and that was, that was pretty cool. So I think they had enough of low brass players and, but I apparently did well enough that, that I got all the accolades, all the little awards, performance opportunities, but not the first place prize, which is totally fine. So I got to go out to Minnesota and playing the public radio station, I did Bozza and and some Telemann stuff. Um, I got a full time scholarship or a full scholarship to the Aspen Music School and that’s where I met my, my future teacher, Per Brevig, and he encouraged me to audition for school in the coming fall, coming spring. And that, that’s sort of when I was in the transition of getting out of the band director program. So it was cool. I mean, having a whole big band room to practice in any time I wanted to, when there’s no school, it was great. Um and so that’s, that’s sort of what perpetuated that went out to new york, auditioned and came back and um I got into the Minnesota school and the Juilliard school in Minnesota school, University of Minnesota School of Music. I didn’t hear back from the University of Minnesota School of Music until like, I don’t know november when I was already in school at Juilliard, I thought that was kind of funny, you’re already there, that the letter showed up.
[0:28:54] John Snell: So then what was it like? Was it like jumping from Iowa to middle of Manhattan?
[0:29:02] Jim Miller: I was pretty much, I was really ready. All my musical heroes, you know, resided in New York. Um or they did all the great recordings in New York. So I was just kind of biting at the bit to check out the city. It was pretty fun actually. Um going to the city in the first place and and I stayed with a friend of a friend. So, um let’s see, uh it was in the village and so I was just kind of figure out how to negotiate the city, you know, never been there before, never been in the subway. And so I kind of hooked it. Um, so I walked all within the village to the Juilliard School, which is kind of a long haul. I mean seemingly what’s it like 60 70 blocks, but you know, it’s, it’s basically like four or five miles, six miles with the horn. And so here I am, I’m on 66th Street, which where Juilliard is and I can’t find the damn school. And so I asked somebody and they’re like, start laughing and it’s like, it’s on the other side of the park. Okay, Our biggest park, the central park, like he starts laughing again. It’s like good luck, right? And like I started walking across this is a huge ass park and it’s not really like, like the park is meant to be walked up and down, you know, North and south, east, west, it’s not really, it’s all sort of this kind of swimming thing. So I finally got the Juilliard, it’s kind of dog tired played. My audition is probably the best thing that happened to me. That was sort of tired. I didn’t really have any nerve issues. Um I had a friend from Juilliard, his name was, she was my pianist and I was staying at her and her boyfriend’s place. Um and so after I’m done with them and you know, sort of checked out with with all the preparatory exams you have to do. Um, I was like, okay, I was a stairs taker, I didn’t like to take the elevator, you know, they went down the stairs right back and I’ll meet you right down there. Um The school is under construction at that time, this is sort of predating the immaculate building it is right now. So the side that faces Lincoln center is the new door and the side that the face is the other street was the old door and I was prepared to go through the old door and so I go in and I’m down the stairs like okay at the basement, opened up the door, close it and sort of like a bit of a construction area, you know, like they have sort of carved out an entire buildings worth of space and I realized I got myself locked in the basement of Juilliard. I’m like, okay, alright, so there’s a door, the double door with a little bit of space facing 67th Street, I’m sorry, 66 Street, 65th where Lincoln Center is and I’m kind of yelling through, hey, hey, hey, I’m locked in the basement of Julliard, and people walk past the start laughing, you know, like really get to know New Yorkers well, they’re like kind of like looking at me, you know? And so I just, I took out my horn and just started blasting the Ride of the Valkyries is as loud and as long as I could until somebody heard me and that’s, that’s how I
[0:32:09] Noah Gladstone: Wow!
[0:32:14] Jim Miller: how I got out of Juilliard. That was pretty funny, good experience. Really, really good experience. There was a great teacher still is, you focus on musicality is kind of like taking a lesson with the conductor. Um, you know, obviously got to work with all the other faculty there too, with Joe, and John Rojack and you know, the brass classes, Mark Gould all these luminaries. It was, it was fantastic. Um, so it was, it was a good experience. Um, and I started doing a little bit of digging and again, the heroes part, I just cold called everyone I could in the union book that I thought would be relevant to me. So that’s how I got introduced to some of the guys in the broadway and I would go and read the books, you know, watch the books go by that sort of thing. Um, and met some players and, and they have a little program. It was a Glock program, it’s just kind of, some schools here have that and we were able to form a variety of groups or a group and then play out outreach to hospices and schools and stuff like that. And so I just, you know, I was hungry. So I had like 10 groups of various sizes and one was, it was a jazz quintet. That was a lot of fun. Um, that one actually turned into the original Juilliard Jazz Sextet, which is the inception of the jazz program, Juilliard, that was a lot of fun. Yeah, that was a lot of fun. I mean, of course, obviously it was really, really talented now. Um you know, we were just sort of winging it if you will. Um, but Mark in a way, was the trumpet player and I was a trombone player and, and uh, went and auditioned this and Dave Berger worked with us. It was, it was a lot of fun. So I kind of got a lot of contact and a lot of things. Um, we had a salsa group in Iowa and so I tried to perpetuate that in new york. Um, so a lot of a lot of good influences came my way, um, which allowed me to take it to my first job, which is in North Carolina symphony, Doing the same thing, going and sitting with bands and all of a sudden I’m playing with six bands rotating around outside the orchestra, teaching I was, I had bills to pay man, so it’s like teaching, you know, 40 lessons a week. Do what you need to do!
[0:34:30] John Snell: So from, from like a pedagogical point of view. Like, was there something that you had to do with your practicing and your maintenance to be able to run the whole gamut from salsa trombone to sitting in an orchestra? To you know, that sort of thing…
[0:34:47] Jim Miller: You know, I didn’t really tap into that to tell the truth until I moved out to Los Angeles. I was just playing and I guess ignorance is bliss because
[0:34:57] John Snell: There’s something about that, right?
[0:34:59] Jim Miller: I know a little bit more than I did back then and you know, I’m more frightened but about doing things now than, than I was when I was younger and it’s too bad, you know, because youth is, has, has some, has some selling features I guess. Um, but yeah, now now I’m more attuned to like, okay, if I have this and this, this today, I’ve got to do X amount of this and X amount of that too, just to make it feel good and not, not waste myself. And then I got introduced to ibuprofen, which is a really fun thing, you know, if you’re off again at two o’clock and you’ve got to go play also trombone at 10,
[0:35:38] Noah Gladstone: Yep.
[0:35:40] John Snell: But yeah, I mean there’s something to be said about, I mean, I’m assuming you were kind of a fan of all of those different styles of music and you, you know, you hear it, you know, the styles, so it’s not, you know, as long as you’re not thinking about the chops and you’re just playing what you have, you know what you hear, you can fit in well, right? I mean, it’s that,
[0:35:55] Jim Miller: Yeah, the music and then and learning a lot of stuff on the way, I mean, the the salsa scene here in L. A. I mean, traditionally is more dance oriented. I came from a kind of a, you know, musicians latin band type of experience. And so it’s a whole different take on it. Um you’re, you’re definitely the back line with occasional have to step on the play. So it’s not like a jazz group that was sort of growing up. So I had to make adjustments and also stylistically to where, you know, most of the groups here are, it’s more Cuban-esque type of playing rather than I guess Puerto Rican or you know, jazz, jazz type of salsa music. Yeah. So
[0:36:39] Noah Gladstone: Yeah,
[0:36:43] John Snell: Can you take us through after Juilliard? You said you went down to North Carolina, Can you take us through what it was like with your orchestral, the audition experience? You know what your prep was like and how that went for you?
[0:36:54] Jim Miller: Absolutely. I drove down there with Darren Acosta and Damon Austin. Damian is principal in the met and Darren is principle in uh Sweden somewhere. I’m not incorrect. Um and uh you know, it’s kind of funny, we were just kids and the audition experience was long, we got there about 10, it was about 10 o’clock at night and it came down to myself and this other guy and we had to keep going back in and playing the first line of the, the rhenish symphony, which is the third movement and it’s grueling because it’s also trauma and it goes up to a high E Flat and I leave and the guy would go in and he’d play it and we both kind of hang out in the lobby and then they’re like we want you to come in and play it again and go in and they asked us to play it slower. So we we probably did that maybe six or seven times. It’s really kind of awful lot just an experience where every time you go in and play this slow piece of music it gets slower and slower. I think they’re just waiting for someone to fold and at the end of it, I mean we’re rock paper scissoring. You take the job. No, you take the job. I don’t want to take the job. So that was kind of a funny audition experience. Um you know, going with that. So I took the job and um drove down to North Carolina to check it out a little bit. Um and uh came back and I moved all my stuff from Manhattan and I arrived, left the house maybe, I don’t know, 10 o’clock at night Manhattan and got to to North Carolina in Raleigh at 9:30 a.m. With all my crap in the car and and got to the rehearsal site and there’s nobody there, all the chairs are set up. So it wasn’t that kind of a thing, but there was nobody there and I’m like the only one like okay just kind of hang out and play a little bit and people started trickling trombone section didn’t show up until that five minutes to 10. This is the first rehearsal of the season and it’s, it’s a pops, you know, outdoor pops concert rehearsal, although we’re practicing indoors, so maybe, you know, if it was a subscription series, it might be a little bit different. But uh, the bass player shows up, he doesn’t even say a word to me. All I hear him saying is like fun is mad, just like,
[0:39:26] Noah Gladstone: Sounds like a lot of players
[0:39:28] Jim Miller: I mean it’s just angry man, like, dude, okay, you know, glad you’re two players over one minute to 10. The second trombone player shows up and like he goes, hi, I’m Dwight, I haven’t played, my horn has been the case in my trunk of my car all summer. How you doing? Takes this horn out and start. So that’s,
[0:39:54] Noah Gladstone: That was your welcome to your union Orchestra job.
[0:39:57] Jim Miller: Yeah, welcome to the reality of man. They had to be really, really great guys. Um, it was just kind of a funny like, oh my God, what did I get myself into? You know, anything about state? It’s hot as hell, you know, but North Carolina would be really, really colorful experience.
[0:40:17] Jim Miller: For five years we had to, it was a bus and truck thing right now. I think in this day and era, they don’t do a lot of traveling. They’ll probably travel like once a week, but we traveled 4-5 days a week on the bus, going somewhere at the Kiddie show or subscription concert or a pops concert and then it um eagle that with, with, you know, doing a few concerts at home. It was always on the bus. So I got to see every inch of that state. It’s pretty cool actually. It is a beautiful state from Colby to the ocean. It was really pretty, pretty cool. Man. We got to see like, you know, pockets of super blonde kids in the, on the outer banks to entire indigenous native american population in the western United States. A lot of, you know, a lot of fun, a lot of mishaps and a lot of fun. I took a bunch of auditions too. So that’s, you know, I was just sort of, you know, trying to get out and progress and I did pretty well in some regards and in a lot of ways I had to do a lot of learning on my own, you know, which is the tough part not having a teacher,
[0:41:26] Noah Gladstone: Especially once you’re working too.
[0:41:30] Jim Miller: Like it’s tough, you know, to balance all that shit out. And I had to have Dwight had to tell me it’s like, you know, you shouldn’t be playing, you know, don’t, don’t play your excerpts on stage. Okay. No one told me that it took him a year and a half to say that. So, you know, he’s a nice guy
[0:41:48] Noah Gladstone: With your students…you tell them now don’t play your excerpts on stage?
[0:41:54] Noah Gladstone: Exactly.
[0:41:57] John Snell: You mentioned that there was…Noah?
[0:42:00] Noah Gladstone: I was gonna say then, so after that you took the L. A. Phil. Audition of course. Um
[0:42:05] Jim Miller: Yes, that was, remember Ralph had quit um in 1990, right? And all right, I’m gonna take this, this is gonna be amazing. You know, it’s it’s it’s it’s such a high bar and like, you know, they’re so sophisticated out there and, and then he, I don’t know, I guess he renegotiated the salary and he stuck around for another year. And then uh and then Byron retired and his job came up in 99 at that point in time I bought a house and I was pretty much, I like North Carolina. I’m just gonna stay here. This is all good kind of dumb with auditioning. But you know hell I’m just gonna go and go out to California, take a flight, go to the ocean, go to the mountains because you say you can do that in one day, play my five minutes and go home. And so that that kind of changed because I end up stick around longer than that, which is kind of, which is kind of good I guess in a lot of ways. Um a no expectation audition is is as valuable as anything and probably the one where you feel like you can be more yourself, you know?
[0:43:20] John Snell: Yeah, I was gonna say there’s gotta be something to that right? Like you’re not expecting any results and you just can play, I mean, is there a way to get that without having the, you know, the seat of the mountains? Yeah,
[0:43:33] Jim Miller: yeah. I want a job to buy a house in another state and that way you’re sort of tethered. But it was, it was, it was good. I recall that I felt pretty comfortable and there’s just kind of came out, you know, that’s how those auditions used to go where like just, it just happens and it’s a no brainer and you’re just there, you know, um it doesn’t, we should happen all the time and you know, I think the people that, that does happen all the time, usually just take like one or two auditions and they’re done. You know, the Jim Markeys in the world who take would be to take like three or four auditions and that’s it. You know, Chris Martin. I mean, people that just, they don’t have to take many auditions, they’re just on and it just happens. Some of us have to learn the hard way. But that’s good because I feel like at least I can impart some information to my, my students, Um, that I wouldn’t have been able to, so I taught at the North Carolina School of the Arts since 1995 and I continued that even though I was living out here in L. A. So I flew to North Carolina once a week, 30 times a year for two days and then took the red eye and then came back and did rehearsal the next day. That was a lot of fun. I enjoyed that. Yeah,
[0:44:48] Noah Gladstone: That’s, that’s yeah.
[0:44:50] John Snell: Yeah. So what would you, what would you do on the flight? You get work done or would you pass out?
[0:44:56] Jim Miller: Well, I mean on the way there, I was the Ambien Express man. It just, it didn’t take very long to take a five minute flight and I look at receipts during, you know, when I was little, I was like, I bought that, it was cool. I never missed a flight based upon those rules, which is, which is good. Um, it was a lot of fun. Especially like just going from one culture to the other, going from a culture where seemingly people a little bit more colder. Um, and like if I hold the door open for somebody, especially if it was a female moving in here to L. A. They kind of give you the ugly look, you know, to North Carolina where men would hold the door open for you. You know, it’s a whole different like level of glaciation if you will and, and the season changes were also really, really nice. So you know, fall and winter you get some snow and and come back here in the springtime and it was hot out there and it’s cold here. I just liked it. I liked the change. Uh And the students were good and some really good students. Um A lot of them are still professionals in North Carolina is a nice run But you know of course you always know when it’s time to stop and and that’s kind of what happened. I quit that about 2009, 2010. So when I first started teaching uh playing the Philharmonic, I was teaching at Long Beach in the North Carolina and Cal Arts. Um Then I tacked on U. C. L. A. Um dismissed myself from Long Beach and then eventually dismissed dismissed myself in other schools. So now it’s just U. C. L. A. Which is totally fine. Mhm. It’s easier to fly across the country than drive across the town.
[0:46:42] Noah Gladstone: 405/101 is pretty nasty sometimes
[0:46:45] Jim Miller: Unless you know that man it’s always the canyons now so just don’t even bother with the four or five.
[0:46:51] Noah Gladstone: Absolutely
[0:46:52] John Snell: stay on the surface streets unless there’s rain and then all of the canyons are closed
[0:46:56] Jim Miller: and man, they were washed out the last couple of weeks. Yeah.
[0:47:00] John Snell: So can you take us into your your first performances with the L. A. Phil I mean what was it like joining was Disney hall open then. Was that I forget what your open
[0:47:11] Noah Gladstone: one season right?
[0:47:14] Jim Miller: To 2002 is when the concert hall opened up.
[0:47:21] John Snell: That’s right, yeah, so you got to experience Dorothy Chandler?
[0:47:24] Jim Miller: You know, Dorothy was great actually was it sounded really good on stage. Really, really, really good and okay in the audience, I mean because it’s such a cavernous place um but it was still kind of neat and um we didn’t have a ceo at that time, so like there’s nobody really steering the boat. The orchestra and audience attendance was like 30%, It was really, really miserable. We still played some really good stuff though. Um and uh I guess like I spent five years sight reading in an orchestra in North Carolina, not, you know, knowing anything. And of course when you’re out of school, like you’ve learned maybe six or seven pieces in school, you know on stage and then you’re thrown, you know, 20 pieces a week in a regional orchestra. Um so I it was good to not have to sight read a whole whole lot In North Carolina in Los Angeles. But uh one thing I really did like about it is that I did give myself the opportunity to, to really study the pieces and and really shed them and play along with recordings and do a lot of listening and and all that stuff. So at least the 1st 10 years of the Philharmonic was was really industrious. Now I can, you know, here comes this familiar piece which Dvorak symphony, I don’t have to do all that extra work to make it come to life. I just know it and you know, it looks to practice and how they kind of go having ralph sour as, as a mentor sitting next to you. It was invaluable, It was great. He had me sit on stage for most of the stuff, even though I’m just kind of hanging out playing one or two notes. Um you know, and eventually he had me play all the rep he didn’t want to do. So like he wasn’t a big fan of rock modern off. So it was actually good because I, I enjoyed playing rock modern off. He was not into that sort of thing or anything modern, just not at all. So when 2000 and and one, we played with marcellus all rise had no interest in doing that whatsoever. I thought it was great because it was a great band, great writing, got to hang on with women. It was, it was really a lot of fun. So, and in a lot of ways is fertile ground, great orchestra. Um and good, good. I don’t know, everybody seemed to be pretty supportive, I think, you know, it’s weird though with the trumpets in front and the trombones and back that somehow that that could not ever change. We had to play in the, in, I had to play them back in don greens back for Like eight years, 9 years. Um It was kind of weird because um you know I just the queues were like okay I think this is the Q. Now it’s so much easier. The trumpet players right next to you. Just look at the music. Okay. Alright there’s that cute. Good alright so much easier what took us so long to? Right.
[0:50:21] Noah Gladstone: Absolutely and you had and you had Sonny of course who was the man? I mean like the nicest person and just so jovial as the second trombone player.
[0:50:33] Jim Miller: Gas man.
[0:50:34] Noah Gladstone: He’s so funny.
[0:50:36] Jim Miller: My first day on the job was running out to Mexico city and I was living in Brea, California which is near Fullerton because most people don’t know where Brea is. This second question they always ask like why Brea because it’s 60 miles away. Um that’s where my relatives live. So my uncle and his family lives in Brea so I got to hang out with them. It’s totally good. Um But here I am I’m gonna drive myself to the airport um and I get up early and I take a look at the traffic like no gps I just had to go drive and get gas and looking and I was I was astounded I’ve never seen traffic like that before. We had just like red lights you know 5 30 then white lights in the direction so like I panicked and I got to the, went home, got everything together, went to the airport, I was probably got there like three hours early and I should have hanging out and I’m hanging out, I’m hanging out and no one is showing up finally going on with me. And so, uh, the finally management showed up, they’re like, oh yeah, flight’s been delayed two hours, okay, alright, cool. So alright, get my stuff and get my ticket and I go through the gate and, and get upstairs And I don’t think it was in Bradley. That might have been, I think it was actually, and I’m like, there’s the trombone section there all at the bar, this is about 8:00 AM. And so, and they’re drinking the, you know, the professional size beers and so I’m doing the same thing. We’re probably like three or four or five or six of those in and then here come the rest of our colleagues trickling in there like, hey, it’s a new trial ballplayer, look at night. So that was a good thing, but that’s, that, that was impeccable training when they go to these guys. Sonny was hilarious man. He just, you know, he, those guys wrote stuff in the parts that were just, you know, maybe off color and definitely funny. Um, sonny, you know, he just had, had good, good time on stage. It was
[0:52:46] Noah Gladstone: professional mute flips, I’ll never forget. Yeah, I mean,
[0:52:50] Jim Miller: yeah flips were great, fantastic, yep. Um, you know, a lot of ass cheek humor, things like that. He and Jeff Reynolds, it was a really good time. So, you know, tours were a blast of those guys.
[0:53:06] Noah Gladstone: Yeah, it’s
[0:53:07] John Snell: one of the things you have to keep them. I mean, you have such a high pressure job. I mean, you need those guys in the section, you know, saying right?
[0:53:16] Jim Miller: It took everything in stride. Um, there were jokes just, I don’t know if we have, I don’t think we have, no, we’re not like that anymore. For some reason, any sort of, you know, joking is just kind of muted down, but it’s good, we still have a good time and save, We just have to sneak under our breath.
[0:53:37] Noah Gladstone: I don’t know that, I don’t know that people would get away with the shenanigans that I used to see those.
[0:53:42] Jim Miller: I just think they’re of accountability definitely. You know, nobody was going to be taking a picture of you posting on social media.
[0:53:53] Noah Gladstone: You know, they were kind of like, they’re kind of like bone pirates back there. I think, you know, it’s definitely like a wall in front of the trombone section. Like, you know, people like, for whatever reason don’t, we don’t think that people can hear us talking or making jokes or, or fart jokes or whatever or like, it’s just our little area, but I don’t think that’s actually true at all. They all know what we’re doing back there, but I don’t know what’s going on
[0:54:20] Jim Miller: and it’s expected,
[0:54:22] Noah Gladstone: I guess it’s like they are and they know that we’re just sitting there most of the time counting rest. So they’re like, oh those poor souls, they have to, you know, engage
[0:54:35] John Snell: So Jim now, you know, that you’ve been in L. A for a while and you’re teaching a lot obviously, and I say the roles of kind of reverse, but like now, what what kind of knowledge do you instill with your, your students now in terms of being on the audition circuit in the preparation? Because, and Lord knows, it’s not, you know, any easier to get an orchestral position today than it was 20 or 30 years ago. So, you know, how do you instill that in your students today?
[0:55:01] Jim Miller: I it’s probably just the same as as any teacher would, respectively. Where uh you know, a level of preparation is really important and familiar with familiarizing yourself with music. I think probably that’s if there’s one thing that, that most students might falter on is the, the listening preparation knowing what the hell you’re playing in the context of what you’re playing in. Um and you know, it’s maybe playing along with recordings, seems to be taboo food. Uh maybe an educational circuits, we do it all the time in the form, like everyone does. I mean it’s, it’s kind of refreshing, you know, talk to joe Pereira is like, yeah, you know, I’m just playing lost in my apartment, everybody does the same thing and so it’s, it’s a really good thing to do and I really want them to at least do that as much as they can. So they know the context, what they’re playing and they don’t have to worry about counting, but also, you know, familiarizing like with the style and and what your role is. Are you playing the melody, you’re playing the accompaniment part, how is that supposed to come across? Um I think that and I mean, the, the, the level of perfection in today’s audition circuit, the at least we’re what we’re looking for maybe in the 60s and 70s, if you are a personality that would have a lot, would have a lot more game than it does now, the personality as a player is not really what audition communities are looking for, they’re looking for people who can play flawlessly and then go from there. So, um there’s a lot of that, um right or wrong, it’s so having to play whatever you need to play on whatever audition material it is without having any issues at all at any point in time of day of life. That is something that’s always gonna be a standard that’s never gonna go away. And so, you know, do I do I make my students play orchestral auditions, um excerpts every lesson all the time. Not really, I promote it when they have something coming up and, you know, sometimes I have to sort of get the information out of them, you know, like they don’t come to me about that, like, okay, well that changes everything. So let’s start working on, you know, your audition material, but it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s good. I just, maybe, you know, it’s, it’s hard to sort of get the relevance of, like, why this needs to be at a certain level um when you’re, you’re young and sort of an experienced and haven’t really gone through that. They’ve gone through a couple auditions, you sort of kind of get the idea like, you know, man, okay, this didn’t go well at all because I did this because I did that, not because I played the greatest audition, they didn’t accept me, which can happen um you know, at all, it’s, it’s just, you can’t really control the people on the other side of the panel. It’s really just how you can control your playing and sometimes obviously nerves gets in the way and it’s a surreal setting. Uh and to be able to play through that automatically without having that trip you up is I think probably the number one factor. So, like, the more, you know, the better you are, I mean, you know, there’s the guys that I play with in latin groups, especially the percussionist, like those of them with the band that that I’ve been playing with for a while and they know the tunes, they either know the tunes because their standard tunes or if it’s more, you know, um, original material, I don’t know the tunes anyway and they know the brakes, the breakdowns and, and because they’ve listened to it and they played along with it and it’s just, they absorbed the music, kind of sort of what we do with in the jazz world too, you know, so that level of absorption is super important. Um and I think that’s just, I think maybe that’s what I really tried to, part of my students is that, you know, live your music because you got to, you know, once you shelf it, you don’t have to live it anymore and that’s, it sort of, it happens in my orchestral day to day living. Um, you have to live a piece of music um or else it just, you’re gonna go in, you know, totally cold. So, you know, whatever is on the stand with this muller and I’m last week or this week is a baptist and Chloe. Um, even though they’re familiar pieces, you still got to be a part of it and especially if it’s something that’s, that’s really, really difficult. Um, you know, you really got to get to know it, especially, I mean we did the tristan and isolde back in december and shamelessly, I had it on my car all the time, just going through this act, going through this next act, you know, studying this one knowing when this part comes in because I mean like, you know, there’s a lot of dead space and you don’t want to miss your entrance at all or have to rely on county because if you’re off, you know, by four counts or one count, uh, you know, or, or lose your place counting and you don’t know when to come in. And it’s like, God petrifying. So that absorption really helps. And it makes, it makes, makes the, the downtime much more interesting too because I, I can hum along with the music and enjoy what I’m doing. I used to fall asleep on, on stage all the time. Classic music will put me to sleep and undergraduate, like we have these listen classes and we’d have to go and to the library and you know, listen to, you know, go through the grout man that I just within seconds I would fall asleep and so, you know, all those famous stuff I’m playing now, put me to sleep now. Yeah, but I can play along with it. So it’s, it’s, you know, it’s a lot of fun to be able to hum along with with your favorite orchestral pieces now or whatever they are. You know, my problem is I listened, but then I’d get so wrapped up in listening that I forget to come in and realized, oh yeah, this was my part. That’s why I do this
[1:01:02] John Snell: So, and you do, you still do a lot of playing outside of the orchestra, right? I mean you do all kinds of, all kinds of different styles and studio work, Things like that.
[1:01:23] Jim Miller: Yeah, fair bit. Um, fair, but I think maybe more so when I don’t know, it kind of comes and goes and the genres or arenas sort of fluctuate. Mean the latin music guys are their own little circle. We all know this. There’s, they’re just little hemispheres of music and they don’t necessarily cross over too often the jazz cats over here and then some the latin guys over here and the classic guys over here and the studio guys over here and like, it doesn’t necessarily cross pollinate a whole lot, but getting to know players helps. And so it’s, it’s always nice to be able to say yes to like a polka band, which, uh, I’m still, I’m still keep asking me, I wanna play Octoberfest sounds like a lot of fun to the point in case with that, you know, that frozen, you
[1:02:20] Noah Gladstone: are frozen for a moment there. But
[1:02:22] Jim Miller: oh, I am
[1:02:23] Noah Gladstone: okay. You were frozen. I had you frozen. I don’t know. Preston can fix it. I’m sure in post you can, yeah, Preston is a genius.
[1:02:33] John Snell: But what about the blues and the progressive rock? I mean, is that coming back?
[1:02:37] Jim Miller: You know what, that’s, that hasn’t really, I know actually haven’t really, I mean, part of it is, I don’t know, I mean rock and rolls and old man’s genre, right? It’s, it’s not like for the 20 year olds, it’s definitely like 60, 60 year olds, music. I just have really been in the circles with those kind of cats. Um, I do that kind of thing. We do have um, you know, musings in the, in the orchestra, um, there’s, there’s guys that dabble in a lot of things and so, you know, still trying to sort of put all that stuff together, but um, I don’t know, blues, this isn’t really a blues town in a lot of ways like Chicago or anywhere near Chicago, and it was just, everybody was into at least, you know, at that time in the eighties, it was great. So, I wish it was coming back.
[1:03:26] John Snell: We used to have the B B King’s Club up at City Walk and that went out of business. So, yeah, that’s the one blues club right now.
[1:03:32] Jim Miller: There’s one in Anaheim, I think. Right?
[1:03:36] John Snell: Yeah. So I was gonna ask, um, oh, equipment, I mean, it wouldn’t be a trombone podcast unless we got super geeky, so you want to talk a little bit about your equipment, what you use, mouthpiece horns, all that kind of stuff, getting to know his expertise here.
[1:03:53] Jim Miller: I know, I know, I’ll keep it sane when I first joined the orchestra, Ralph wanted me to play a Conn because that’s what they all played. And so I had to go get a Conn and practice it back in North Carolina and bring it back up and I’m really glad I enjoyed it immensely. I had a horn that a student had told me he went off, He was, he didn’t want to continue on. I think he was in high school, he went out to Denmark to become a singer songwriter, but he told me it was like 60 60 seven or 66. No, uh, um, it was an Elkhart, beautiful horn in the spring and all that stuff. Really enjoyed it. That’s not what I played with the orchestra. Would they had me play some of the new york on stuff with open wrap. It was good. Um, I didn’t really feel at home with it because I had a Bach in North Carolina. Um, and I think once Ralph retired, I think the body came back out. So it was a Bach 42. It’s kind of like the easy in a lot of ways. It’s an easy blow. Um, the response is there, um, Conn is a beautiful horn and it’s an easy below and a lot of settings. And uh, my, my first solo cd was, was on the Conn. Really enjoyed that. So Bach has been sort of a staple for the longest time up until fairly recently. Uh, our principal trombone was David Rejano and I got hooked up with the Shires Company and so he produced his own horn. And so we all went out to the factory last fall and I procured a romano horn. Um tweaking things here and there because it’s all module, so these days at least in the orchestra setting and it’s it’s the it’s the the shire is it’s pretty fun. I enjoyed a lot. Mhm. I knew it. Um Six and it was 6.5 a mile. No, I’m just kidding. I wish Sonny Ausman played a five G. Normal five G. Fattest sound I’ve ever heard in my life. And it just, it kind of like drives you nuts, right? Like why why why can’t I do that on a five G. Um I couldn’t, so I had a four G. And then I, for the longest time I play with a three A. L. Which Denis Wick still play it, I think it feels really comfortable. I use that on on tenor trombone and euphonium and it just seems to work out pretty well I guess because the backboard is open um and the throat is open, so it’s just that they’re kind of flows through. I don’t have to necessarily have to work it too hard. Um And it seems to facilitate itself in the upper and lower register, so I like the thickness of the rim to tell the truth, it feels really, really good. Um I’ve dabbled with other mouthpieces, assume Greg Blacks. Um they just don’t seem to resonate quite as well with me. Um But obviously they work well for a lot of players so um I’m just gonna stick with what I’ve got and not opened up Pandora’s box too much. It was enough,
[1:07:14] Noah Gladstone: you know, you’re like, yeah, yeah,
[1:07:18] Jim Miller: you know, um, and figure out, I guess Shires blows way different than Bachs. It really, really does and, and it’s a kind of a learning curve into how to make it resonate really, really well. But I think the horn plays well. It sounds good. Um, on the other side of the bell sounds a little bit more richer than the box did. So,
[1:07:40] Noah Gladstone: And you had your 42 stolen was about two years ago. So did you ever recover that instrument or or did it never, ever turn up?
[1:07:49] Jim Miller: Never turned up
[1:07:51] Noah Gladstone: well, maybe we’ll put it out in the world on our podcast here. That one Theyer valve
[1:08:02] Jim Miller: Good horn, it was used, that was another one that I purchased from a former student who in September decided didn’t want to continue playing trombone the night before that, this was in North Carolina, we have a big room that I taught in. Everybody kept their horns there, they all just, you know, had keys and came in and out. And so one night I was just like, wow, there’s 10 trombone player, trombone players, 10 trombones and 10 trombone stands. I’m gonna play them all because, you know, no one’s around and it was that, he was like, well this one sounds pretty good, I like this one a lot. And the next day he shows up, I don’t think I, I don’t want to play trombone anymore. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna drop out of school. Like really? You’re selling your horn. So bad horn cost me 600 bucks.
[1:08:47] Noah Gladstone: It was good.
[1:08:49] Jim Miller: It was a great price. And so I guess, you know, financially it wasn’t that big of a loss, but emotionally, you know, it’s just too bad man. It just worked out well. So yeah, oneDay
[1:09:00] Noah Gladstone: One day
[1:09:02] Jim Miller: One day, yeah, I have different variations of some body parts. Had a lot of horns at one point in time, probably 20 trombones and something down like 10 with some parts slides and bells and, you know, trips to, uh, to The Brass Ark for yes, of course.
[1:09:20] Noah Gladstone: It’s a dangerous candy store. Tell me it’s hard enough for me to have to walk out of there with horns.
[1:09:33] Jim Miller: That’s right. So, you know, um, there’s always a new contra purchase looming on the horizon.
[1:09:39] Noah Gladstone: Oh yeah. Oh yeah, absolutely.
[1:09:43] John Snell: Um, so Jim, would you tell us about your, your two cds that you’ve already released, you working on any new projects you want to talk about?
[1:09:51] Jim Miller: I am. So, uh, we’ll have, yeah, there’s, I have, I mean Spotify is the the distributor. Do, we don’t have to really shop around to labels necessarily to get your music published for better or for worse. Um, it’s kind of like having your music self published than taking to the record store and having just kind of collect us in the bin, but online and uh you know, having some people listen to it maybe or not. So, um my first record from coast to coast, that was recorded in North Carolina. I did another recording called delays delays, which is with the signal processors. So the compositions were built on certain delay techniques. Um during the pandemic, we formed a jazz trio called The Vaccine. And so that’s another recording that’s available online. And uh when I was in North Carolina and in Juilliard, we had a little trio. I was a vocal trio with with a a soprano and a cellist of myself. And so I put that on Spotify. Um that was a lot of fun. So the new project that’s coming up is kind of dragging through some old archival recordings. I have a lot a lot of stuff from recitals I’ve done over the years. I probably did a lot of recitals in North Carolina in in L. A. When I first showed up. Um and uh various other projects and I decided to to sifting through all that stuff, man, you know, some of it was recording studio style and with some in chunks and, you know, editing there, That’s, I don’t really feel like I’m having a good time editing that stuff, but the live performances at least, seemingly uh seemed like it’d be easier to edit just because it’s an intact thing and kind of shore up, you know, little odds and ends here and there. So that’s what’s coming down the pipe is uh is a recording of duets that I’ve done with with various players throughout the years, mostly live performance setting. Um and it’s, you know, tunes that I’ve written a lot of improvisation and uh I think it’s starting to coalesce. Preston has been great with, with doing some of the groundwork for me. Um and uh I mean, you, we worked together in the past actually, we’ve put together one that one of the cuts with Alex aisles that’s on the recording. Um and I learned a lot and I’m still learning a lot. So I do that, I’ve been doing a lot of editing on my own. Um and then, but that’s kind of where I draw the line with any sort of, I guess I feel kind of weird presence, like you do it at a point, it works, it’s like, oh man, I’m great, you know, but trying to get, you know, to have a professional quality, you know, soundscape is like, I’m not great at all. So that one’s a trial by air factor, but I’m starting to get, I’m going for like a uniform sound throughout the nine cuts even though they might have been recorded in various settings, getting closer to it. So
[1:13:18] John Snell: we’re looking forward to that and for those listeners, not Preston is our podcast guru and he’s actually listening and on all this but he’s behind the scenes. So that’s uh that’s our our our podcast guru. Audio guy Preston. Yeah. So and so yeah making making me sound like Charles Kuralt and uh Noah, I know what you’re going to sound like Captain Picard right?
[1:13:44] Noah Gladstone: My dream come true. Make it so Preston.
[1:13:47] Jim Miller: Speaking about editing. Huh?
[1:13:49] John Snell: So Jim. So how can folks find out more about when your project gets released? I mean, Spotify, website, social media, what do you got?
[1:13:58] Jim Miller: I mean, I’m not the best with maintaining websites but I do have a website Jamesmiller dot com and uh vaccine has a website uh school of music at U. C. L. A. The trombone studio has a little website. Um These are ways to do it. Social media obviously is another way of kind of going about it, but it’s sort of, I don’t know that’s a good question. Um There for people of a certain age, there’s a certain style of social media works well and um sometimes it’s kind of hard to cross reference to a never different different platforms. Um but I think for me just to get the the recording out there in the first place and then take it from there is probably good so it’s gonna it’s archived forever.
[1:14:53] John Snell: So we’ll make sure we have links to all of those places so folks can get fined fined you and find out when the, when the next album’s coming out. And it also get to Spotify and hear all your other albums. Um, so that’s awesome. I mean, I can’t believe an hour has gone by already, So, so so much great information. Um, so before we let you go up. Noah, did you have any last questions?
[1:15:15] Noah Gladstone: Um, I just want to give a plug to Jim. He’s a fantastic trombonist. And anyone in the L. A. Area should absolutely hit him up for some lessons and uh, and Jim, you’re a great guy. I’ve known you a long time and it’s really an honor to have you on our podcast,
[1:15:30] Jim Miller: Man, thanks. No, I mean, I think the first time, well, I remember the first time we met, but also asked that you invited me to your place. I think you were 16 or 17. Yeah, I was running late, so I couldn’t make it. I’m glad we actually, you know, maintain a friendship.
[1:15:46] Noah Gladstone: Yeah, I think we, I think I met you, I was not even in college. Probably. Yeah, for sure.
[1:15:53] Jim Miller: Yeah. Great things at that age. Um, yeah, fine hang.
[1:15:59] John Snell: Jim, it has been an absolute honor. Thank you so much. Um, before we let you go though, would you leave our listeners with one last piece of advice that you would consider your best piece of advice,
[1:16:11] Jim Miller: Wow. Never stop listening to music and try to find something to, to learn every day.
[1:16:23] John Snell: Beautiful… and don’t play half step off.
[1:16:29] Jim Miller: Not intentionally, no, I mean learn how to spell curmudgeon. That’s one thing that you like to bolster your day. I’ve learned something today.
[1:16:40] John Snell: Wonderful advice. Thank you so much for being on here. Jim sure.
[1:16:44] Jim Miller: Thanks for the invite. I really appreciate it, appreciate it, john right, you know what john
[1:16:52] John Snell: well a huge thank you for James Miller for sharing so many great stories and advice. I mean who’s gonna forget him? The picture of him being locked inside the basement of Juilliard when he went to audition. I mean, life’s a journey and you know, it’s certainly a zigzag and it’s amazing to see where James has ended up and persevered through everything. Uh and what a wonderful guy he is. It was really great to get to know him in the interview and hope you really appreciate all of the advice and stories that he had for you because I know I did. So thank you James again for spending your afternoon. Thank you Noah, as always for being a admirable co host and thank you for listening, we’ll look forward to the next guest coming up next month. I can’t spill the beans yet, but we have some incredible guests lined up this year. So hit that subscribe button if you would, if you like this kind of content, feel free to send us an email about who you’d like to hear on the show. You can reach me at john J O H N at bob Reeves dot com. Feel free to reach out on the bob Reeves Brass on social media as well. You can DM me on instagram, twitter facebook, pretty much anywhere, Send me a DM and I’ll get it. So if you have any questions or concerns or more impor let me guess, you’d like to hear on this podcast, send them my way. And I would be remiss without mentioning to please give us that five star review. If you think we deserve, it helps us remain visible. So that other trombonist and brass players will come across our little corner of the world here in the trombone corner. That’s it for now. Until next time…keep on sliding!